in which I attempt to be a rockstar teacher librarian :)

This week, our professor offered us two different discussion prompts/ideas/guiding questions on Evidence Based Practice.
I reproduce them below, but understand that my thoughts don’t necessarily align with either question, but rather the practice of EBP in school libraries on the whole. My brain decided that’s how it wanted to function today.

What are some of the issues or concerns that might hinder school librarians from engaging in EBP and, in your opinion, are they valid, insurmountable, etc.? What are potential evidence-based strategies that you might use in your school library? (For example, Ross Todd mentions rubrics, checklists, portfolios, etc.)

First, a few statements that may sound a bit harsh:

  • If one’s understanding of EBP is that it is librarian-focused, not student-focused, one needs open up to the greater possibilities.
  • If the thought of implementing EBP is overwhelming, rest assured it’s entirely possible to do so in pieces, and necessary.
  • If you believe school libraries and learning are important, please continue reading! 🙂

What is evidence-based practice? I’ll allow Ross Todd to explain that, in this quote from The Evidence-Based Manifesto for School Librarians which can be accessed here on the School Library Journal website.

“School libraries need to systematically collect evidence that shows how their practices impact student achievement; the development of deep knowledge and understanding; and the competencies and skills for thinking, living, and working. This holistic approach to evidence-based practice in school libraries involves three dimensions: evidence for practice, evidence in practice, and evidence of practice.”

Here’s the beauty of evidence-based practice: it won’t look at the same at school 1, school B, or school 3. The three components that Todd speaks of work together to take in the big picture, apply it to the local picture, and create a local picture. The end result is the ability to say,

This school in particular has been affected/changed/transformed/improved through X, Y, and Z initiatives, which were developed based on this needs assessment based on our local learning community. This team of persons implemented these initiatives and we have witnessed outcomes 1, 2, 3. Our students learned how to do this, that, and the other and successfully reached the learning objectives that were designed to meet their particular needs. These initiatives were developed based on research of best practices, and then applied in specific ways to the needs our learning community presented.”

Wouldn’t you love to be able to say all of that about the projects and learning going on in your school library?!

Perhaps it sounds overwhelming – I can appreciate that. One step at a time! What can you implement into the library program that will turn towards a culture of evidence-based practice, and help incorporate it consistently? Maybe starting with rubrics for projects – and having students help you create those rubrics and engage in their own learning. What about adding in reflective practice on the part of students – starting small with a discussion-style “wrap up” of the project with ideas on what went right, what went wrong, and what went awesome?

The first step to moving towards EBP is to start moving towards EBP. 🙂 Start with analyzing your students needs and determining learning goals. In what ways can you gather evidence to support teaching to meet those goals? In what ways can you gather evidence that the learning goals are being met effectively through both teaching and learning? I firmly believe that simply starting to think about how to incorporate evidence-based practice is the first step to making the transition smooth.

I liked this short summary of areas from which to gain evidence in your practice, from the School Library Media Specialist Eduscapes page.

This means gather evidence from various perspectives (Loertscher & Woolls, 2003):

  • learner level – student gains (i.e., achievement test scores, rubrics, portfolios, attitude scales, checklists, reflections)
  • teaching unit level – lessons and learning (i.e., checklists, collaboration rubrics, evaluation forms, timelines, log sheets)
  • organization level – library output (i.e., center statistics, hardware and software data)

As someone who is about to enter the school library world, I have one more request to make – please share your evidence! Share the successes; share those that didn’t meet expectations; share how you’ve revised; share what you’ve learned; share what your students have learned and how learning outcomes have changed along the way; share how your role as a library media specialist has changed as you’ve learned more; share.

And now, a statement that hopefully wraps up my ramblings coherently and gives us all hope and motivation for the future, that comes to you via Ross Todd (again, from the Evidence-Based Manifesto for School Librarians):

“EBP is not about scrambling to find additional time. It’s about establishing priorities and making choices based on your beliefs about the importance of school libraries and learning.”


Comments on: "Thoughts on: Evidence-Based Practice in SchLibs" (5)

  1. Great post Marie! I couldn’t agree more that in order to embrace EBP you have to start moving towards EBP. Love it. Also, I thought you made some excellent recommendations about reflective practice and student involvement for rubrics. Honestly, I can’t stand rubrics but that’s because I don’t get much from them personally. I like checklists and lists with points assigned to sections or items on the list. Looking at some rubrics makes me look at my final grade and want to argue about the point value level based on the rubric. However, with student involvement I could see this being beneficial. I thought your point about sharing your evidence was huge. We’re librarians so why aren’t we sharing! I’m hoping to use infographics if I can practice creating them to reflect data in a better way. Here’s hoping I use EBP to it’s fullest!

  2. I like the idea of breaking EBP down into pieces and starting out slowly. This seems to be a good way to introduce a new teacher evaluation system as well, because I’ve noticed that teachers panic and get anxious when they are thrown into a whole new way of being evaluated.

    I like the point you made that EBP will look different at every school, because the needs of their community will be different. What if education as a whole was viewed in this way? Standardized testing does not take into account the specific needs, socio-economic status, and learning abilities of each school and neither do evaluation systems. Sorry for my little side-bar rant, but why can’t we start letting EBP in our schools drive educational reform? I know I don’t know everything there is about education and educational reform, but I like to think that the way it stands now, we aren’t focusing so much on the individual student and his or her needs, but massing them together into one big collective group that passes or fails based on test scores.

  3. Thanks Marie for this post. I echoe the idea you expressed about “sharing”. Sharing will help us understand what works and what doesn’t and start building this foundation for EBP and EBE.
    Good perspective!

  4. Marilyn Arnone said:

    I think both Jessica and Erin have provided some very thoughtful feedback on your excellent post. I would like to add a reinforcement for your encouragement of “sharing.” Sharing will not only help you as a school librarian present evidence to your administrators but it helps all of us to learn from each other.

  5. Caleb Heslop said:

    I thought this was a good synopsis of what was said throughout the reading we had this week. You did a wonderful job connecting the research and your own interpretations. It is important to begin to work with EBP to validate our LMC and the role it has in a student’s education. Like other jobs in education the data can help you focus on improvements become better at your job. I like the idea of generating student input. As we need to have both local data and research, I think sharing with your fellow practitioners is important too. Thank you for this post.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: